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Faith Mortimer on Genres


As a Reader or a Writer, does Genre sometimes confuse you?

23/03/2012

Find it at: http://www.faithmortimerauthor.com/5/post/2012/03/as-a-reader-or-a-writer-does-genre-sometimes-confuse-you.html

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Good day!

Over the years I’ve found the subject of genre to be rather puzzling, especially as nowadays the line between genre often appears to ‘bleed’ between two, three or even four different genre. Genre is a French term and although it can be used as a “kind” or “sort” of virtually anything, the most common usage is of course for categorizing stories by television, film, theatre and prose and applies to both fiction and nonfiction books.

But because genre is nothing more than a loose, fuzzy logic way of categorizing these things I often find it difficult to place a certain book or film in one category and if you’re honest I’m sure there are many people who feel the same way.
A book genre is a particular class or type of book. Books can be divided into a broad assortment of genres, and people often use genre as a criterion when selecting a book to read and because of this, if you’re an author, ensuring your book is correctly listed is most important.

The two broadest genres are fiction and nonfiction. Fiction books involve events and stories which although perhaps based on truth, have not happened. Nonfiction covers topics which have a basis in fact, ranging from history books to home baking.

Within each basic division, there are a number of categories, and in some cases as I’ve already said, a book may span several genres and this is where it can become even fuzzier.

Some commonly-used categories of book genre in fiction include: romance, young adult mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, literary fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Children’s fiction can also be divided into a different category, such as into picture books, young adult novels, and so forth.

Nonfiction can include things like art, history, politics, gardening, science, travel, sociology, biography, nature, and reference among many others. Nonfiction books like fiction books can also span multiple genres. For example I’ve just read a book written about a game park in Kenya (nature and research), which also covers travel within Africa. The book could be considered a nature book but it is also a travel book, since it involves a discussion of travel in a foreign country. Divisions can be found within each subcategory, as well: art, for example, includes art reference books, books about art history, books which showcase particular types of art, and so forth. Getting fuzzier?..

For many people, book genre is a very important factor in their decision to purchase a book. I write and I love reading mystery murder novels. But I’m not a huge fan of vampire or horror books which scares me witless! However, people sometimes find when they push outside the book genre they are familiar with they discover topics and authors which they grow to love.

Within book genre there are ‘conventions’, which are the many elements fans expect to find in a novel of that genre. For example, in my murder/crime novels my fans will expect a body to turn up pretty early in my books…and sometimes expect multiple bodies to appear!

These conventions are important when it comes to writing a successful novel. If I stumble across a group of readers who love and regularly buy Agatha Christie-type murder mystery books, then it makes good commercial sense to write something that is original and yet still follows the same basic pattern as all the others. Why would I waste the opportunity of tapping into this market by writing something completely different?

Genre fiction is also known as popular, commercial or category fiction and is nowadays sold as mass-market books. It also (usually) places a greater emphasis on plot and less emphasis on characterisation, ‘fine’ writing or the theme exploration itself which is more literary fiction. Then there’s mainstream fiction; another avenue to explore…as this is when a genre novel reaches beyond its usual audience and is bought and enjoyed by readers who don’t normally read that type of fiction.

Because mainstream fiction is genre fiction which breaks the rules…genre fiction follows a well-known pattern

Let’s take a crime novel then…and use examples of genre fiction V mainstream fiction

Conventions say in genre fiction a body should show up in the first few chapters, and preferably in the first few pages – in mainstream my murder isn’t committed until halfway through.

Conventions dictate that the guilty should be brought to justice by the detective or sleuth in the closing pages – in mainstream my murderer gets away with it and an innocent man is arrested in his place.

Conventions dictate that the bulk of the plot should be devoted to the detection of the crime – I spend a large chunk of my novel describing the detective’s troubled sex and home life. The question is have I written a detective novel at all? <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=””>Well yes and no…

      <li “<span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”li “>mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>

No

       in the sense that it rips up the convention rule book for that

particular genre

       and really couldn’t be marketed as a part of that genre.<li “<span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”li “>mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>

Yes

     in the sense that it features a murder and a detective or sleuth attempting to solve the crime.

The solution therefore, is to market my novel to a more general audience, one which won’t care about all the traditional conventions of detective fiction having been broken; they welcome a break with tradition. Or it could be classed and marketed not as a detective crime novel at all, but a novel about a man’s troubled sex life and the murder could be on the side almost!

This makes it mainstream fiction – but if the quality of the writing and the profundity of ideas explored put my novel into the <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=””>prize-winning league, it would probably be considered as literary fiction.

And so mainstream fiction is…

It is genre or literary fiction which happens to sell well.
It is genre fiction which breaks the conventions.
I’ve made a short list of some of the principal fiction genre…there are plenty more!

      <li “<span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”li “>mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Children’s,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Chick Lit,
    <li “<span=”” class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”li “>mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Commercial Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Contemporary,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Crime,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Erotica,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Family Saga,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Fantasy,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Dark Fantasy,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Gay and Lesbian,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>General Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Graphic Novels,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Historical Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Horror,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Humour,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Literary Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Military and Espionage,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Multicultural,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Mystery,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Offbeat or Quirky,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Picture Books,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Religious and Inspirational,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Romance,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Science Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Short Story Collections,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Thrillers and Suspense,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Western,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Women’s Fiction,<li “mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto;=””>Young Adult.

Within each principal genre there are many sub-genres which are constantly changing as readers likes and dislikes change.

So I might write in my murder mysteries…Detective Fiction, Police Procedurals, Private Eye Novels, British plot, Women sleuths, Hard-boiled.

And what if my novel spans several genres?!! For instance: murder and romance? I have to decide which to focus on…what is the main theme and thrust of the plot? Is it murder or romance? It is important to recognise my specific genre as all novels within that genre will have similar characteristics which my fans will recognise and expect…I must keep these fans happy! My crime fans will expect the murder to take the main plot, not the romance. Indeed I could lose fans if I did this.

I have to decide whether I want to write the conventional way with genre fiction or as mainstream fiction as I certainly don’t want to fall between the two…I might lose my audience if it’s not conventional enough for fans of that genre and if it’s too much conventional genre it might not appeal or attract a mainstream or literary audience… I could end up with no audience at all! Another fuzzy dilemma!

Out of interest, those people who buy one fiction book a year, about 49% buy a book in the mystery, thriller and crime categories. The next most popular is science fiction (25%), and romance at 21%.

I hope I’ve clarified one or two things as I’m sure many people get confused over genre, especially new writers. There are some interesting sites on Google that go much more in depth regarding genre. One site is wiseGeek, which runs a series of questions and answers and I did use one or two ideas from that site as examples. There’s plenty more if you’re really interested.

Thanks for reading this post and as ever a huge thanks for my own fans of my mainstream murder/mystery/psychological/adventure/drama fiction books! Your continuing support is tremendous and this last week has been phenomenal!

Thanks and happy reading, whether you’re a fiction fan, non-fiction, eBook or paperback lover!

Faithx

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Posted by on 05/02/2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Lighter Post-Christmas Dishes


mussels

My absolute favourite after all that heavy Christmas food is the warm mussels salad. Cook a quantity of very small new potatoes, Anja potatoes, or Jerusalem artichokes in gently boiling water. In the meantime, wash and de-beard the mussels in cold water and keep only the firmly closed ones, discard the rest. Gently warm up a quantity of good quality olive oil mixed with finely pressed garlic, finely chopped spring onions and ground pepper to taste. Keep the mixture warm. In a separate saucepan, boil a small quantity of water, using a large salad dish as a lid. When the potatoes are cooked, take them out of water (keep the water), peel them and place them into the warm salad dish above the saucepan and cover with the lid that goes with the saucepan. Blanche some spinach or kale in the water where you cooked the potato for a couple of minutes, strain it out (but still keep the water) and add it to the cooked potatoes, and cover the dish well again. Finally, bring the water to the boil again and throw the mussels into it for a couple of minutes. Discard any that haven’t opened and add the rest into the salad dish. Mix them in with the rest of the content, and pour the oil mixture over them.

Serve immediately with wedges of lemon.

 
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Posted by on 08/01/2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Next Big Thing


Read Faith Helen Mortimer’s wonderful Next Big Thing interview at http://www.faithmortimerauthor.com/5/post/2012/11/queenie-for-a-day.html

mirabooks

The Blog Chain: The Next Big Thing

Thank you Mary T. McGuire http://mtmcguire.co.uk/2012/10/17/the-next-big-thing/ for including me in this blog chain.

THE INTERVIEW

Q. What is the working title of your book?

A. The current working title, For The Love Of Honey, is also The Final Title. But, for quite a while I called it The Governess. I still like that but it doesn’t reflect the content enough to serve the purpose.

Q. Where did the idea come from for the book?

A. For The Love Of Honey is the third book in the Simon Grant Mysteries series. To some extent, it’s rooted in the first two mysteries. It picks up on two or three themes that haven’t been quite resolved before. But, it also has a discrete identity of its own.

Q. What genre does your book fall under?

A. Psychological Murder Mystery

Q. Which actors would…

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Posted by on 21/11/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Next Big Thing


The Blog Chain: The Next Big Thing

Thank you Mary T. McGuire http://mtmcguire.co.uk/2012/10/17/the-next-big-thing/ for including me in this blog chain.

THE INTERVIEW

Q. What is the working title of your book?

A. The current working title, For The Love Of Honey, is also The Final Title. But, for quite a while I called it The Governess. I still like that but it doesn’t reflect the content enough to serve the purpose.

Q. Where did the idea come from for the book?

A. For The Love Of Honey is the third book in the Simon Grant Mysteries series. To some extent, it’s rooted in the first two mysteries. It picks up on two or three themes that haven’t been quite resolved before. But, it also has a discrete identity of its own.

Q. What genre does your book fall under?

A. Psychological Murder Mystery

Q. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a film rendition?

A. Ah, well, now we’re talking.

Some ten years ago Colin Firth would have been perfect for the part. My current cast of recurring characters:

Rupert Penry Jones as DI Simon Grant:

Michelle Dockery as Pippa Martin (Simon Grant’s wife)

Michelle Dockery-AES-078311.jpg

Emily Blunt as Emma Martin (sister-in-law):

Emily Blunt-ALO-128790.jpg

–      James D’Arcy as Philip Martin (Emma’s husband)

James Darcy-LMK-057714.jpg

Vanessa Redgrave as Eve Hamilton Grant (mother):

Vanessa Redgrave-ALO-002573.jpg

John Bird as Adam Hamilton Grant (father)

John Bird

Stephen Fry as Rudi Hamilton Grant (brother):

Stephen Fry-ALO-121550.jpg

Others may include Saoirse Ronan, David Suchet, scores of others.  My books are densely populated. They could keep most of the British actors in work for years.
Q. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A. Why should Secret Service feel sufficiently threatened by an elderly gynaecologist and a policeman’s wife to kill them?

Q. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

A. Self-published.
Q. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A. A long, long time. I write slowly at the best of times. On top of that, when I reached about 40,000 words mark I realised that one of my central characters had outgrown their motivation/back story.  So, it was back to square one. Such recoveries are very difficult because a major character tends to seep into all the others, their actions and reactions as well as dominate the overall feel and tone of the story. The storyline remained fairly intact but the way it was told had to be drastically changed. I’m still at it.
Q. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A.  Hmmm… My books are often compared to the works of John Le Carre and P. D. James. But that’s the overall style, not the content. By format they are police procedurals in the good old British tradition.
Q. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

A. I’ve always liked mysteries. With the exception of well researched historical novels, that’s the only genre that appeals to the brain rather than senses and emotions. Only, I’m a little bit like a child and its toys. I like stripping my toys to pieces to see what’s inside, what makes them tick. That’s what I do with my characters and the stories are strongly character-driven.
Q. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A. All the three stories are told from two different but complementary points of view. The third book, For the Love of Honey, also employs some other ways of telling the story.

Please visit the following blogs and webpages

http://www.faithmortimerauthor.com/5/post/2012/11/queenie-for-a-day.html

http://casutton.tripod.com/cazutt/

http://slpiercebooks.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop.html

http://jcallenbooks.weebly.com/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/James-A.-Anderson/e/B004DANB0Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1351070554&sr=1-2-ent

http://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Stroud/e/B00460RZMQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://pathester.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on 24/10/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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